The UN Working Group concluded that the Iranian Regime had “no legal basis for the arrest and detention” of Xiyue Wang and that the Regime had violated his right to a fair trial, in an opinion (Number 52/2018) adopted on August 23.
Their report read: “The Working Group requests the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Wang without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms…. [T]he appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Wang immediately.”
These findings were in response to a petition filed earlier this year by Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, and his mother.
Wang, a naturalized US citizen, had travelled to Iran, with the full knowledge and permission of the Iranian Regime, to study Farsi and do research on documents dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, held in Iran’s National Archives for his doctoral dissertation.
He was arrested in August 2016 and imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where many political prisoners are held, before being wrongfully convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison during a closed trial.
The Working Group said that Wang was not spying, citing Iran’s intentionally vague and broad espionage laws, but conducting historical research for academic purposes, which posed no threat to the Iranian Regime. In fact, Wang was arrested as part of a campaign by the Regime to arrest and hold hostage foreign nationals.
They said that Wang should not have been put on trial at all, let alone one that did not meet standards for impartiality and independence.
The Working Group assessed a response from the Iranian Regime about Wang’s imprisonment and said that it “did not explain … how Mr. Wang had cooperated with a foreign state … against the Islamic Republic of Iran, nor how accessing historical archives relating to a period of governance over 100 years ago could amount to an attempt to overthrow the Iranian Government”.
The Working Group said: “There are several facts that lead the Working Group to conclude that Mr. Wang’s detention was motivated by the fact that he is a United States citizen.”
Princeton Vice President and Secretary Robert K. Durkee said: “Xiyue Wang has been unjustly imprisoned and separated from his wife and young child for more than two years.
The Working Group makes it clear that Wang was in Iran solely to do scholarly work, and that the charges against him were entirely without merit. We hope these findings by the Working Group and its call for his immediate release will, in fact, expedite his release so he can return to his family and come back to campus to complete his Ph.D.”